Well, the Taco Stand certainly secured a prime location in the heart of Encinitas and there is definitely a buzz happening around this place as I witnessed first hand recently.
I went on a Monday night with a chef friend known for his appetite and thought we would kill some time over a beer at Biergarden across the street and let the line die down that is consistently out the door.
Well, that never happened so we were a few beers in before we decided we better bust a move and get over there before they closed.
I figured out as we moved forward that the line out the door could be a clever marketing strategy as there really is no room inside for the line to form, hence creating a line out the door that really never goes away.
As a marketer, I can appreciate that.
They bill themselves as a “family owned taqueria inspired by the taco stands of Tijuana with solid family recipes and a fridge stocked with Mexican Coca-Cola.”
That’s somewhat accurate I guess, except it felt more like a clean, franchise replica of a taqueria, and not sure what the allure of Mexican Coke is — as it can be found in just about every restaurant and convenience store in San Diego. I’m also thinking there are a dozen, if not more taco shops, in North County that look and feel more like an “authentic” Tijuana taqueria but will never play to the masses or expand beyond their neighborhood.
But hey, I get it and the Taco Stand has tapped into a mass appeal — so more power to them.
I’ll get off my high horse now and really, I am much more sensitive to this stuff than the general public. And what really matters when it comes down to it is the food and we had a very satisfying meal at Taco Stand. The high school kid cranking out fresh corn tortillas was a nice touch, though they did not seem to know where the flour tortillas came from. Either way, they were both solid foundations for a nice variety of tacos and burritos.
The taco Al Pastor seems to be their signature taco with the large visible rotisserie marinated pork slowly rotating and sliced to order. It was a good one for sure. Also tried the Camaron taco that had spicy grilled shrimp, cheese, avocado, cabbage, tomato and chipotle sauce.
The Baja taco was a decent battered fish option though it could have used a bit more crunch. Next trip I’m looking forward to trying the Nopal taco that has flamed grilled cactus, melted cheese, cilantro sauce, tomato and avocado with beans available. I’ve never had cactus and am curious to try it.
In a move reminiscent of PF Chang’s or In-N-Out, they offer any taco protein style served on lettuce instead of a tortilla. As somewhat of a taco purist I find that a bit appalling but they are playing to their Southern California health conscious crowd perfectly with that move.
Burritos were part of our sampling and we had to give the California a shot. It has all the required ingredients including flame-grilled beef though in their case it’s certified Angus, cheese, fries, guacamole, tomato salsa and sour cream. We both devoured our halves in a couple bites so a thumbs up on the Cali burrito for sure.
The Pescado burrito with grilled Mahi-Mahi, cabbage, cilantro, onions, tomato, avocado and chipotle sauce was a delight as well. Most all of the tacos come in burrito form though I did not see a protein style burrito…and I am perfectly fine with that, might be a bit of a mess anyway.
The chips and guacamole with fresh made chips were on the nice crunchy side, but the really fun one was the grilled corn on the cob coated in mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and chili powder. Loved that option and could have eaten a couple of those.
A range of sides is available including Carne Asada fries, Mar Y Tierra fries translated means surf and turf fries with shrimp and steak, that’s another I will have to come back and try. Hot fresh churros and paletas are the dessert options and a full line of breakfast burritos.
The Taco Stand is a solid option with good food in a town overflowing with Mexican options. In fact, another Mexican restaurant opened right across the street in the space formerly occupied by my beloved Ogata. Change is happening in Encinitas and this is just part of it.
Find them at 642 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas (760) 230-2061 or letstaco.com
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at [email protected] or (858) 395-6905.